The heyday of WWE wrestling was the Attitude Era, rife with talented young stars, captive audiences, and excitement around the product. That era became the launching point for turning wrestling company WWF into entertainment conglomerate WWE. That era was possible because the product was highly enjoyable and wildly popular. Growing up watching the product during the Attitude Era, the excitement for a Raw or Smackdown was uncontrollable in certain circles, and it showed through the ratings. Although we’re in a vastly different time, with more distractions, a different format, and less competition, the WWE is trying to bring back one facet of the Attitude Era: the viability of several high-level, main event guys.
One of the hallmarks of the Attitude Era was that there were a plethora of guys in the Main Event scene who could legitimately be champion: The Rock, Triple H, Stone Cold, Kurt Angle, Mankind, Undertaker, Big Show, Jericho and Kane were all wrestlers who had championship pedigree and who could have easily become WWE Champ once more at the drop of a hat or a ref for a 3-count. All of those men held the WWE Title during the Attitude Era, and if they didn’t dominate the scene as champion they were very legitimate threats (Kane, Mankind, Jericho, etc.) to the champion. With several wrestlers having WWE Title potential, you never knew if a feud would establish a new champion or buttress the current one, and that uncertainty made watching it fun. Having this many wrestlers involved in the Main Event, (or at least threats to the title) never devalued the title; on the contrary, it made the title more important because several huge names were always jostling for position to once again wear the crown.
Enter the modern-day and we can see that the WWE is trying to create a nice roster of guys in the general Main Event scene. Cena, Del Rio (like him or fall asleep during his matches), Punk, Orton, Bryan, and Big Show are all guys who have held the WWE title or WHC title that could all easily be in play for another run with either of those titles. All but one of those names are currently involved in storylines that are directly relevant to the WWE title or WHC title, and Punk is headed back to the WWE Title scene once his vendetta with Heyman is through. Yes, there are two Main Events, unlike in the Attitude Era but with the way Cena’s returning, it’s clear that the Main Event scene is becoming fluid. Instead of worrying about having enough people to fill the Main Event scene on each show, the WWE is trying amass a good roster of Main Event talent, as Main Event stars switch from scene to scene. All of these stars have a legit shot at winning one of the two main event titles. In a sense, having all of these wrestlers so close to the WWE and WHC title scenes is similar to what the WWE had with their Main Event in the Attitude Era: several convincing threats to the security of a Main Event Title.
With a man who was involved in the Attitude Era Main Event scene at the helm, it’s not surprising to see that the WWE is attempting to structure the Main Event in the same way that they did during their most recent and most popular era. There are a few names that should also be a part of the current Main Event roster: Dolph Ziggler, Christian, Mark Henry, Sheamus, etc. but for whatever reason, they are not: injury, punishment, general dislike from booking. Still, it’s clear to see that the WWE is trying to recreate the magic of the Attitude Era by structuring today’s PG era in a way that’s reminiscent of how they structure the Attitude Era’s Main Event. Multiple wrestlers with legitimate shots at a Main Event title is good for business. It keeps fans guessing, makes the title incredibly important, and produces a better quality product.